When I lived in California, I had never heard of, seen, or tasted a ramp. Since moving here I’ve seen them on restaurant menus left and right and when I made my first trek to the local market, ramps were everywhere! Ramps are the east coast version of a leek, but they look more onion-like than what us leek lovers are used to and they smell (and taste) more like garlic. And yet they retain the sweetness of a leek. Ramps grow wild between South Carolina and Canada, and are Spring’s delicacy on this coast. There are even festivals celebrating them!
- How to Pick: Look for bright green leaves and firm bulbs. Ramps has a short harvest season so pick them up at the market before they’re gone.
- How to Store: Remove the papery outer skin and trim off hanging roots, leaving only the root base intact. Rinse dirt away then dry thoroughly. Wrap them tightly in plastic and store the refrigerator for up to a week.
- How to Prepare: Saute them in olive oil or butter for a simple side, chop them into soups, or scramble them into an egg dish. You can use them in any recipe that calls for scallions or leeks, and since ramps aren’t cultivated the same way leeks are – mostly underground – they’re much easier to clean. Just cut off the roots, rinse thoroughly, and scrub off any excess dirt.
- Recipe Ideas: Try this Ramp Udon Soup with Bacon Consommé and Asparagus Tempura from Habeas Brulee; Epicurious has a yummy sounding Ramp and Buttermilk Biscuits with Cracked Coriander recipe as well as a Ramp and Sausage Risotto recipe I want to try; and Mario Batali’s Spaghetti and Ramps couldn’t look easier (or more delish). Also, I want to make up a batch of No Recipe’s Ramp Pesto. Tune in on Friday when I whip up some sort of delicious concoction with ramps!
- Fun Fact: Ramps smell BIG TIME so beware of the stinky odor they emit if cooking with these guys for the first time!
(Thanks to ApplePiePatispate.com for this image)